Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Possible jury problem in Junior Gotti trial

It was the last thing prosecutors haunted by the memory of John "Junior" Gotti's three previous mistrials needed: a possible jury problem.

Juror No. 3, a 55-year-old Manhattan secretary, passed Judge Kevin Castel a note Monday morning saying she needed to speak to him urgently.

"Wow," Castel exclaimed as the juror told him her story at a sidebar conference.

After some private talk, he asked her, "Can you put that out of your mind? And be fair and impartial to both sides?"
The judge then questioned the juror some more, and indicated that she had mentioned whatever the incident was to the other jurors - apparently raising the possibility of juror contamination.

However, the judge also said he did not think the incident was "very significant."

The details of the juror's concern were kept secret.

Castel plans to question the other jurors about what they heard and their impartiality this afternoon.

Gotti lawyer Charles Carnesi asked the judge to bar the media from the questioning, but reporters objected and Castel ruled the court will remain open.

The jurors have already heard reams of testimony from star prosecution witness John Alite about jury tampering and witness intimidation.

In one past case a threatening note was left for one juror. In another, a juror was allegedly offered $60,000 in cash.

On the first day of the trial, after the jury had already been chosen, seven of the panelists asked to be released from duty. They were denied.

The trial is entering its third week and the defense is scheduled to begin presenting its case soon.


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